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Managing the Safety of Newtown-Redevelopment Cancelled Areas in Seoul

Sang-Young ShinㆍSuk-Min LeeㆍHyeon-Jung Nam

Over the past few years, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has cancelled numerous projects focused on ‘newtown’ and redevelopment initiatives, with the number of such cancelled project sites totaling at 386 by the end of 2019. While 193 of these sites are under listing for alternative regeneration projects, the other remaining 193 sites are not listed for any future projects. As these areas with cancelled redevelopment are often older and neglected neighborhoods, with high levels of dilapidation and economic deprivation, they present an issue of safety for the inhabitants, and should be given additional special considerations in future planning policies.

This study uses geographic analysis to examine the level of safety of areas where ‘newtown’ and redevelopment schemes were cancelled, and provides policy suggestions for future safety management strategies.

Firstly, the study looks at the current status of these existing ‘cancelled’ areas, and gives an overview of current existing safety measures governing these areas. Once these newtown or redevelopment project schemes are abandoned by the planning entity, the area is often managed routinely, similar to other typically average, built-up areas. In some cases, safety management programs, such as the existence of bulding management or enhanced crime prevention regulation, are often implemented in these cancelled areas, due to their higher risk for disasters, accidents, and crime. Additionally, some of the aforementioned alternative regeneration projects newly-proposed by the government also include some safety measures, but overall, the current levels of safety measures in place remain insufficient for these cancelled areas.

Secondly, this study analyzes the safety conditions of the cancelled areas through a combination of data analysis, field survey, and questionnaires among current residents of these neighborhoods. As these cancelled areas are old and dilapidated when it comes to both their infrastructure and buildings, there is, as mentioned previously, higher levels of probability that sustained damage will occur from disasters, accidents, and crime. In particular, the presence of old or empty houses are at great risk for the occurrence of disaster and crime, partially to the narrow and steep roads, often less than 4 meters in width, which present a large barrier for emergency response. Additionally, these cancelled areas tend to hold a high proportion of vulnerable population, such as the elderly and single-person households.

Thirdly, this study proposes several strategies in order to improve safety of these cancelled areas, with these strategies relying on the classification of the cancelled areas into four types, and the recommendation of a customized safety management strategy for each of these types. Different area types should be prioritized differently when it comes to their need for safety management. Specifically, safety management measures prior to alternative regeneration stages are suggested to go alongside physical improvement driven (H/W) and activity program driven (S/W), with both the public and the private spheres acting as major stakeholders. This study also suggests several considerations of safety during the process of preparing alternative regeneration projects.